The Right Way to Apply Makeup Primer

Confused by makeup primer? Don't be. Use our tips for applying makeup primer the right way

Use our instructions to properly apply makeup primer

Makeup primer is one of the makeup products that we know artists are using religiously, and yet many still categorize it as non-essential and don’t think it is worth it to spend the extra expense of buying one. In my post “Why Should You Use Makeup Primer?” I discuss this exact topic and set the record straight that primer makes a huge difference in the overall look of your makeup.

Helping to smooth out the surface of your skin, the best makeup primer makes makeup application easy and more even. In addition to making your makeup last all day, there are numerous skin care benefits that it provides. That being said, there is a right and a wrong way to apply it and knowing the best techniques to use will make the world’s difference.

Step 1: Choose the right primer

In order to get the best results from using primer, you want to make sure that you have the right primer for you. There are many different types of primers to consider and the one you need will depend on what you want it to accomplish.

Are you concerned with fine lines and wrinkles? Do you need to hide discoloration? Are you oily and need something to absorb that oil throughout the day? Figure out what your skin type is and look for primers that have ingredients catered to that.

A great way to test this out and determine your skin type is to wash your face with facial cleanser and let it air dry. In about 15-20 minutes ask yourself how your skin feels. If it feels tight or dry, you have dry skin. If it feels moist, then you have oily skin.

  • Dry skin - you should look for a gel-based, moisturizing, or illuminating primer.
  • Oily skin - a mattifying primer will tone down shine and absorb oil.
  • Normal or Combination - get experimental and find what feels best.

You will also want to consider where you will want to wear primer. There are primers for your face, eyes, lashes, and lips. If you aren’t wearing lipstick that day, then you probably don’t need to apply primer. It’s nice to have all types on hand for when you need them.

Also, make sure you are matching your primer and foundation. This means, if the foundation you use is water-based, you will want a water-based foundation. Same goes for if you use a silicon-based foundation. Making sure the two coincide will help them blend together well and last even longer.

Step 2: Prep your face

You want to make sure you are starting with a nice, clean canvas. Wash your face with cleanser and use a toner to remove any stubborn dirt or leftover makeup. This may be obvious, but make sure you are using clean hands to clean your face. Especially if you are applying your skin care and primer with your fingers.

Complete your normal pre-makeup skin care regimen. Primer won’t replace your daily moisturizer, so make sure you don’t skip this step, even if your primer has moisturizing properties. Wait a few minutes for your moisturizer to completely dry before moving on.

Step 3: Apply primer

After you have finished applying your skin care products and let them dry fully, it’s time for the primer. It is best to use your fingers when applying primer. Your fingers are the best way to get an even application and an added benefit is a gentle massage for your skin, which helps with blood flow and is a great pick-me-up for your skin.

Less is more. Don’t overdo it with the primer, that’s just wasteful. You should only need about a raisin-sized drop of primer to cover your face. Starting from the center and working your way out, apply the primer in circular motions, blending outwards. Blend it all the way up to your hairline and down your neck.

If you aren’t using a separate eye primer, then blend the primer around the eyes using your ring finger and gently pat some primer on the lids as well. This will absorb oils around the eyes and help prevent smudges and creasing.

If you are using an eyeshadow primer, you can apply it in a similar fashion. Squeeze a tiny amount onto either your ring finger, or a flat shadow brush. Blend using a gentle tapping motion starting at the lash line and working your way up into your eyebrows. This will make your eyebrow makeup last, too! Apply under the bottom lashes as well.

Step 4: Let it dry

This is a very important step, and one that is frequently skipped. You don’t want to disturb the primer while it works its magic and is being absorbed into your skin. Give it at least a full minute before layering anything else on top. Now you're ready to apply the rest of your makeup and to face the day!

Resources — Allure, Makeup.com, Byrdie, Marie Claire